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Question of the Month: Top Tech

Notebooks, projectors and wireless LANs are becoming old hat at schools, so what is the next generation technology that impresses you the most for helping to motivate and teach kids?

 

John Orbaugh John Orbaugh

Director of Technology Services

Tyler Independent School District

Tyler, TX

The technology that is of greatest interest to our district is the emerging tablet PCs. We’ve been looking at a variety of eReaders and they are nice as far as they go. The downside to them, as I see it, is they are limited to basically one function. What happens when you want to go beyond the laudable goal of getting our students to read more?

A tablet gives us the ability access eBooks and other resources that can be used to get our students writing about and discussing what they read. We soon will be able to deliver a virtual desktop to these devices which will give our students access to a host of educational resources. We’ve tried the iPads and are using a lot of iPods in our district, but again these devices have some limitations. The iPad is so close to being useful, but it remains a consumer device and a source of frustration. I am interested in a tablet that can be managed as an enterprise device.

Beyond using tablets with our students I’m eyeing them as a potential replacement for our aging laptops we’ve issued to teachers and administrators. I’d like to have a device that will let me deliver the familiar Windows desktop experience and applications through a virtual desktop, let me connect our classroom devices (digital projector, interactive white board, document camera and various other USB devices) and give our staff the ultra-portability of the tablet.

Although I haven’t found the exact device I’m looking for, we are actively evaluating these devices and considering how we can put them to use in our district.

 

Merk weedy Mark Weedy

Retired Superintendent

Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools

Groveport, Ohio

Technology has already had a huge impact on education.  In today’s world of dwindling resources and budgets, schools must be proactive in designing an education that fits today’s needs. I believe technology will continue to have a huge impact on how education is delivered to students at all levels.  To that end, the ideas of cloud computing and data storage are ideas that must be explored even more.  I envision the following occurring on a regular basis in the not so distant future:

  • All students will be provided access to current technology to “do school.”
  • All students will not be required to attend school for 180 days as they do now.
  • Once students demonstrate proficiency, they will be able to move on to the next level of schooling. This will be done at their own pace. Students who do not meet the minimum pace will be provided additional support and/or required to meet face-to-face with a teacher to get them back on track.
  • Students will be able to save papers, essays, presentations, etc., where teachers will be able to access them.  Teachers then will be able to have an electronic “conversation” with the individual student to critique the student’s work and help him/her make it better. This process may require face-to-face meetings between the student and teacher at a mutually agreeable time for both. This means that such meetings could (and probably would) occur outside the typical school day and year that are currently in place. School districts must adapt to such a schedule.  
  • Once the student’s work is at an acceptable level, the student will share that work with the entire school community as part of the requirement to move to the next level of education.  The school community would include fellow students, school staff members (teachers, administrators, support staff), and community members.  This process will assure everyone in the community of the level of education students are receiving.
  • All schools across the nation will be accredited by a national accreditation service that ensures quality and comparability from district to district and state to state.  This process should help eliminate the disparities that currently exist.

 

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